How to Stop a Nagging Cough

Janet Tiberian Author
By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
August 15, 2016
tips to control chronic cough

Maybe it started as nothing more than a scratchy throat or a choking feeling as if food went down the “wrong pipe.” Before you know it, you’ve developed a cough. And despite weeks of cough syrup, lozenges and water, you can’t seem to shake it. You may have a chronic cough. 

Cleveland Clinic defines a chronic cough as one that lasts more than eight weeks. It’s also one of the most common reasons for a doctor’s appointment. Although a chronic cough is irritating, nagging and even concerning, it can also be productive. That's right. Coughs are a reflex and meant to protect your body by clearing germs, toxins and mucus from your lungs and trachea (or windpipe), according to WebMD.

As of now, there is no real “cure” for chronic coughing. In fact, there hasn’t been a new cough medication on the market in about 50 years. This is why the U.S. National Institute for Health Research recently announced a clinic trial to test a new drug for chronic cough. If this drug is ultimately approved, it may provide relief to the 12 to 15 percent of Americans dealing with chronic cough.  

In the meanwhile, if you are struggling with a persistent cough, work with your MDVIP-affiliated doctor to help you determine the underlying cause, which could be:

  • Allergies and environmental irritants
  • Chronic lung diseases like asthma, bronchitis and emphysema
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Laryngitis
  • Blood pressure medications (primarily ACE inhibitors)
  • Upper respiratory viruses and infections
  • Sinus infections and post-nasal drip
  • Heart conditions
  • Lung cancer
  • Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke

Your physician may prescribe medications or offer lifestyle changes such as drinking plenty of water, which helps thin mucus; taking hot showers to add humidity to the air and relieve dry throats; avoiding cigarette smoke and known environmental allergens; and following medication instructions to manage conditions causing coughing. 

Continue reading to learn more about minimizing coughs and colds.

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About the Author
Janet Tiberian Author
Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES

Janet Tiberian is MDVIP's health educator. She has more than 25 years experience in chronic disease prevention and therapeutic exercise.

View All Posts By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
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